Sgt. Charles May, Royal Canadian Engineer

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Temujin
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Re: Sgt. Charles May, Royal Canadian Engineer

Post by Temujin » Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:03 pm

Lorraine Campbell wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:21 pm
I'm am a bit late, but I just wanted to thank you for all your help. Last September, my husband and I flew from Vancouver to London and followed my grandfather's journey from Portsmouth, through Juno Beach, Dieppe, Antwerp, Nijmegen, Kleve and all points in between. With the help of this site as well as a few others, we found the sites (or close to the original sites) of several bridges the 5th were involved in. Churchill and Winston Bridges in Caen, the Stalker Bridge in Troan, France, named after a lieutenant who was killed on Juno Beach and was an admired man of the 5th, the Hilliard Bridge in Tilburg, Holland, the Venlo Bridge over the Meuse River, Holland, the Martin Bridge over the Albert Canal near Herentals, Holland, a Bailey bridge over the Rhine near Arnhem, the Waal Bridge in Nijmegen, the Wessel Bridge in Germany, the Walsh Bridge near Mook, Holland and the MacLean Bridge over the Rhine in Emmerich, Germany. We visited many war cemeteries along the way, as well as anything we could find related to Canadians. Juno Beach, Vimy Ridge and The Abbey Ardenne were especially moving. To stand where my grandfather stood is a feeling I can never explain. We live in Chilliwack, BC and before we left, I gathered small stones from the former CFB location and home of the Engineers and painted Maple Leafs on them and left them at important places on our travels, bride sites and headstones. I carried his Sapper Crest, his photo, a locket with the Engineer insignia on it that he gave me as a child and his French English dictionary that was issued to the men before they left England. It was the most incredible journey and the fitting end to my many years of research. I was always in awe of Gramps. He collected and saved everything and could build something out of anything. Now I know why.. because that is what Engineers do. Thank you for your service and all the help. This is a great site, and as November 11th approaches, we will remember them.
Your welcome Lorraine, and I’m glad you had such a memorable trip. As you know (I think I’ve told you before) that I’m also an “Engineer” (I retired as a Lieutenant) and I also live in Chilliwack, so if you ever need any other research help just let me know, I’m sure we can get together if you want or just to say hello

Cheers

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Phil
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Re: Sgt. Charles May, Royal Canadian Engineer

Post by Phil » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:53 pm

Lorraine Campbell wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:21 pm
It was the most incredible journey and the fitting end to my many years of research. I was always in awe of Gramps. He collected and saved everything and could build something out of anything. Now I know why.. because that is what Engineers do. Thank you for your service and all the help. This is a great site, and as November 11th approaches, we will remember them.
Glad you hear you had a meaningful trip. Research and results like your pilgrimage are why I started this site so it's wonderful to hear stories like this.
Phil

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Re: Sgt. Charles May, Royal Canadian Engineer

Post by Lorraine Campbell » Sat Nov 09, 2019 8:35 pm

Thank you . When I first started researching, I thought the war ran much like a movie, quick and the good guys winning, I have learned so much. I am now able to put pictures he had to dates and places. I am writing a history for my family and it really is just amazing what went on. I never thought about how they got the bridging supplies, in all that chaos, to where they had to be, how much paperwork and planning went into it all. I never thought about laundry crews and mobile bath crews. Fortunately, the writers of the war diary were very informative and even humourous . This site is so full of information and any question I have asked has been answered. I still have a lot of questions and I hope to take Barry up on his offer to meet with me.
The trip to Europe was made so much better by the help I have gotten here. We found bridge sites and I stood right there, where Gramps and his men stood. The 5th stayed close after the war and as a kid, we had a few reunions on our farm as well as ones in Kingston. They were the tightest bunch of men and I learned respect and the love of my country from them. I will not let the sacrifices of him and his men be forgotten.
We will remember them.
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Re: Sgt. Charles May, Royal Canadian Engineer

Post by Lorraine Campbell » Sat Feb 22, 2020 8:10 pm

hello again. I have some questions regarding rank and the stripes on the RCE uniform. I am trying to put locations to pictures of my grandfather and the difference between him going from 2 stripes on his uniform to 3 has helped but my questions are... from his pay book, I know when he went from Cpl. to acting L/Sgt. Does the L mean Lance and if so, what does Lance mean? He is later confirmed L/Sgt. then goes to acting Sgt, then confirmed Sgt. Would he get the 3rd stripe when he became L/Sgt or confirmed Sgt? Is there anything else on the uniform that distinguishes a difference besides the stripes?

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Re: Sgt. Charles May, Royal Canadian Engineer

Post by Phil » Sun Feb 23, 2020 8:38 am

Lorraine Campbell wrote:
Sat Feb 22, 2020 8:10 pm
hello again. I have some questions regarding rank and the stripes on the RCE uniform. I am trying to put locations to pictures of my grandfather and the difference between him going from 2 stripes on his uniform to 3 has helped but my questions are... from his pay book, I know when he went from Cpl. to acting L/Sgt. Does the L mean Lance and if so, what does Lance mean? He is later confirmed L/Sgt. then goes to acting Sgt, then confirmed Sgt. Would he get the 3rd stripe when he became L/Sgt or confirmed Sgt? Is there anything else on the uniform that distinguishes a difference besides the stripes?
Yes, the L is for Lance. In the Canadian military prior to the end of WWII L/Sgt wore three chevrons, the same as a Sgt, so yes he would have gotten the three chevrons when promoted to Lance Sergeant. I have read that in full dress a Lance Sergeant's chevrons were white whereas a full Sergeants chevrons were gold, though even that if that were true (which I cannot confirm) I doubt it would help.

Here is further information,

https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/ranks/ ... rgeant.htm
Lance Sergeant was an appointment in the Canadian Army up until Unification.

A soldier with the rank of corporal could be appointed lance-sergeant. He received the pay of a corporal, but wore the rank insignia of a sergeant and was permitted to belong to the Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' Mess. The appointment could also be removed by the Commanding Officer at any time without administrative action, which was not the case for a substantive sergeant.

In the period between the end of the Second World War and Unification, the Canadian Army allowed 6 percent of corporals to be appointed as lance sergeants. The intent was to allow commanding officers to test certain corporals for possible promotion by giving them responsibilities at the Senior NCO level. As substantive promotions were centrally controlled by Army HQ, employment as a lance sergeant was seen to be beneficial to career NCOs.

It was not uncommon in this period for NCOs to hold the appointment, and have to revert to corporal upon posting to another unit.

After Unification, the appointments of Lance Sergeant and Lance Corporal were terminated; the former Navy and Air Force personnel did not have such appointments in their unique rank structure and apparently were unhappy at the idea of relinquishing appointments at the discretion of a CO.

Rank insignia for lance sergeants was a standard 3-bar chevron. In the Royal Canadian Artillery, substantive sergeants were permitted to wear a gun badge over the chevron; lance sergeants were not permitted to do so.
And here's a possible history of the practice (though disputed).

https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Lance_sergeant
Some sources claim that the use of the appointment of lance sergeant was introduced by Queen Victoria, who stated that her guards would not wear only one chevron when mounting guard outside the royal palaces. Guards lance-corporals therefore wore two chevrons. That left the problem of what the full corporal would wear, so the appointment of lance sergeant was introduced.[2] However, the Guards regiments still had corporals until after the First World War and the appointment of lance sergeant was used throughout the army (not just by the Guards) until 1946,[citation needed] so the veracity of the story is questionable.
Phil

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Re: Sgt. Charles May, Royal Canadian Engineer

Post by Temujin » Sun Feb 23, 2020 9:30 am

Lorraine Campbell wrote:
Sat Feb 22, 2020 8:10 pm
hello again. I have some questions regarding rank and the stripes on the RCE uniform. Is there anything else on the uniform that distinguishes a difference besides the stripes?
Lorraine, a follow up on “ranks”, as your relative was in the RCE, their Sgt rank badges also had the Engineer “grenade” over the rank
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As far as I know, there was “no difference’ between Lance Sgt and Sgt in the Engineers for the wearing of rank badges......meaning BOTH L/Sgt and Sgt would have worn the same style of rank

Also, of course, their were other badges on the sleeves, such as “good conduct” stripes, wound strips, trade badges and qualification

https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/ranks/ ... rgeant.htm

AND their was the RANK of “Staff Sargent”......photo shown below.
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You can see the Engineer “Staff Sgt” rank, again had the Engineer Grenade and the Crown over the 3 chevrons to indicate the rank. The drawings show the “Kings Crown” and the photo of the rank shows the “Queens Crown”

Hope this helps, and let us know if you have any other questions

https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/ranks/ ... rgeant.htm

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Re: Sgt. Charles May, Royal Canadian Engineer

Post by Temujin » Sun Feb 23, 2020 9:59 am

The difference between the Engineer Grenade and the Artillery Grenade badge
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http://rca-arc.org/heritage/customs-and-traditions/

Also, IF, they were issued it, they could wear “walking out” dress.....which was different to “battle dress”

In the photo’s below, you will see the Rank badges of a RCE Staff Sgt, the “collar dog” (worn on the collar) of the 9 flame Engineer Grenade, and the “service strips” showing the number of years services with the “reversed red chevrons” worn at the bottom of the sleeve
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If you look closely at the “red” service stripes above, you can see wear this man WAS wearing 3 stripes (all one badge) and then he was issued ANOTHER stripe, which he has sewn on to the uniform above the first 3. Back in those days men generally did their OWN tailoring (no base “seamstress” to add your badges et)

AGAIN, generally this type of uniform was NOT issued to Canadian troops oversea’s, but it does show all the different types of badges and insignia’s that could be on the sleeves of uniforms
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